Long Reach’s Brian Green scored 20 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, as the Lightning opened the Paint Branch Holiday Tournament with a 67-57 victory over Damascus Wednesday afternoon.
Up by only two points after the third quarter, Long Reach coach Al Moraz Jr. implored his squad, which had lost three of its previous four games, to dig down and find another gear.
“I basically just told them to come out, turn up the pressure and show these guys what we are capable of,” Moraz said. “I give them a lot of credit … they delivered down the stretch.”
In addition to Green’s big day, the Lightning (3-3, 5-3) also got a double-double from Avery Allmond (14 points, 10 rebounds) and 13 points and 9 rebounds from Jeremiah Hall. Their efforts offset a 20-point game from Damscus (0-3, 1-6) guard Connor Burke.
Rebounding was also a big factor, as Long Reach ended up with four guys with seven or more rebounds. “We were killing them on the boards most of the game … following up shots and getting ourselves second chances,” Moraz said.
Long Reach now advances into the tournament championship game on Thursday at 7 p.m. against either Paint Branch or B-CC. This is the first time in three years that the Lightning has advanced to the championship game of the holiday tournament.
Getting to the title match-up took some work, however, especially with Damascus surging into control during the second quarter. Cold shooting early ended up costing Long Reach, as it went into the half down four, 34-30.
“You could tell with the three days off (for the Holidays), we were definitely rusty early on,” Moraz said.
But Long Reach recovered to regain the lead by the end of the third quarter, 47-45, and then produced its best eight-minute stretch of the game to secure the victory. Green, who actually spent some time at point guard Wednesday with starter Jalen Brown not available, reached the 20-point plateau for the second time this season. He hit 5-6 from the foul line, along with one 3-pointer, to provide the kind of senior leadership Long Reach needed.
“I’ve been talking to Brian about stepping into that role and being confident in his shot,” Moraz said. “He’s certainly capable of being a go-to-guy for us that takes 10-15 shots a game.”
Green also chipped in with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Long Reach is now 5-1 this season when Green scores in double figures.
Long Reach 67, Damascus 57
LR (3-3, 5-3): Almond 14, Barr 7, Green 20, Hall 13, Kwarteng 4, Neal 6, Neiss 3.
D (0-3, 1-6): Jolly 8, Daniels 4, Burke 20, Woody 13, Rogers 3, A. Samantar 2, U Samantar 3, Jacobs 4.
Half: 34-30 D.